‘Neighborhoods’ to split campus into four parts

Three signs reflect Sandy Creek Parking Deck's name change to Shenandoah Parking Deck. The change was made as part of a new neighborhood system for dividing campus. (Jake McLernon)

New terminology is being used to describe areas of campus and to help get people where they need to go, according to the chair of the University Naming Committee.

The new system utilizes the term “neighborhoods” to divide George Mason University’s Fairfax campus. Names for the four new neighborhoods—Aquia, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Roanoke—were chosen to coincide with entrance roads to campus.

Housing adopted the term neighborhood to describe its residential areas in recent years, but the new campus-wide usage of the term serves a broader purpose, according to University Naming Committee members. The notion of campus neighborhoods will help describe general sections of campus with more “clarity and uniformity,” according to Associate Dean of University Life Todd Rose, who sits on the committee.

“The idea of the neighborhoods was that we would have a neighborhood, a street and a parking deck that all had the same name to it,” Rose said.  “It will certainly be easier [with the change] to give directions to people and get them around campus when all of this is wrapped up.”

The idea developed after a similar four-area breakdown was used at Mason during last year’s orientation process, according to Vice President of University Relations Christine LaPaille, who chairs the University Naming Committee. In order to get new students where they needed to be, the Office of Orientation and Family Programs and Services divided the campus into areas with basic directional names (North, Southeast, West, etc.).

“This worked and people liked it,” LaPaille said.

The concept further developed in discussions with the transportation planning group for the university, which is working to improve transportation and parking and to reduce traffic as the university expands.

The Aquia neighborhood lies to the northwest, Rappahannock describes the area in the northeast, Shenandoah the southeast and Roanoke the southwest by the Patriot Center, an area expected to further develop in the university’s master plan for construction.

The transition to the new concept has begun this summer and will be pushed during orientation and the start of the fall semester when students return to campus, according to members of the committee.

Housing will still be able to use the names of their housing areas, like President’s Park, which serve as subsets of the general campus neighborhoods. Some existing buildings and structures, however, have been renamed to avoid confusion in the switch.

Shenandoah Hall, a dorm in the Chesapeake housing area, will now be called Alleghany Hall. The Sandy Creek Parking Deck will now be called Shenandoah Parking Deck.

Signage was placed last week to reflect the changes.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story had a headline that said the neighborhoods split campus into fourths. It now reads "four parts."

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